The Coronavirus and Clothes – Should You Change After Going Out?



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From washing our hands throughout the day, sneezing or coughing into a tissue, keeping six feet apart from each other and practicing social distancing, we are all conscious of our actions as we fight the coronavirus pandemic.

But what about our clothing? If we have been out to the grocery store should we change our clothes? And does regular laundry detergent kill the coronavirus?

According to Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says COVID-19 is typically transmitted through respiratory droplets but can remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials, including clothes.

“I suspect that you can find viability of the virus for several hours to maybe a day on clothes,” infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland, told Health. “It depends largely on the environmental conditions—temperature and humidity impact the growth of the virus.”

While Dr. Adalja told Health he doesn’t believe fabric acts as a “major vehicle spread” it can’t hurt to take some steps if we have been in public spaces.

According to Health, if you’ve been out in public – say to the grocery store – and people haven’t been that great about keeping a 6 ft. distance, it’s probably a good idea to change clothes once you get home and throw your other clothes in the wash.

You should also take precautions if someone in your house has tested positive for COVID-19, or is showing symptoms.

According to Health, the CDC suggests wearing disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and discarding the gloves immediately afterward. Don’t shake the laundry to avoid dispersing the virus through the air, and immediately wash hands after taking off your gloves. The CDC recommends washing the clothes (and towels and bed linens) on the warmest possible appropriate setting. Additionally, the hampers which held the infected person’s clothes should also be disinfected.

The American Chemistry Council has compiled THIS extensive list of products, including sanitizing detergent, to help disinfect your clothes.